Landowners/Developers FAQs

The Landowner FAQs is for information purposes only and is intended to address commonly asked questions but doesn’t address all potential landowner questions and concerns. A Williams representative will contact landowners that may be impacted by a pipeline project about the need for acquisition of easement rights and the formalization of such acquisition in a definitive easement agreement. These Landowner FAQs do not create a binding or enforceable contract and may not be relied upon by a party as the basis for a contract.

 

Construction

Q: How long will construction last on my property?

A: Typically construction on a single property will last four to six weeks, depending upon the size of your property, terrain and weather.

Q: What will be done to address a landowner’s construction concerns?

A: The Williams Land Representative will discuss any special requirements (construction stipulations) that need to be addressed at the time an easement agreement is negotiated and will remain available to address any landowner concerns throughout construction. If the Land Representative is not able to resolve the issue in a satisfactory manner, you should ask for the immediate supervisor and contact him/her directly.

Q: What precautions will be taken to prevent the subsoil from mixing with the topsoil?

A: Topsoil and subsoil are excavated separately and segregated into discrete stockpiles to allow for the re-establishment of the original soil profile.   In agricultural fields, hayfields or other fields used for crops, the top 12” of topsoil will be segregated into a separate stockpile.  Where topsoil is less than 12”, all of the topsoil will be removed and stored separately.  Once construction is complete, the subsoil will be placed into the trench first, followed by the topsoil.

Q: Will I be able to cross the easement area during construction if needed?

A: Subject to restrictions that may be necessary to safely construct the pipeline it will be possible to allow passage of certain vehicles and equipment across the pipeline easement area during construction. The ditch can be bridged or temporarily backfilled at locations specified in your easement agreement or a construction stipulation agreement. The pipe is placed along the easement area in such a manner that there will be gaps left at certain intervals. After construction completion, traffic on/across the easement area will need to be minimized to establish required vegetation prior to permit closure.

Q: What physical evidence will be left after the pipeline is built?

A: With the exception of specific erosion control elements where needed, all construction debris such as timber, underbrush and rock will be disposed of in a manner mutually agreed upon, based on the easement agreement, construction stipulation agreement, and in accordance with all county/parish, state and federal regulations.

Pipeline markers will be located at road crossings, major utility crossings, railroad crossings, most water courses, and as may otherwise be required by applicable law or regulation.  In one or two growing seasons, it will be difficult to distinguish the pipeline easement area from the natural surroundings, except for the absence of trees and the presence of markers.

Q: How will you access my property during construction?

A: A Williams Land Representative will address access to the easement area during and after the completion of construction when negotiating the easement agreement for the easement area. Construction activities are only allowed in authorized areas granted during the negotiations. Only those roads and/or access and egress points mutually agreed upon in advance will be used by the construction crews.

Q: After construction, what restrictions will I have on the use of the easement area?

A: The landowner may return to normal surface use of the land with limited restrictions as agreed to in the easement agreement. However, any digging on the easement area, even for fencing, vegetation or drainage is prohibited without contacting the local One-Call System by calling 811.  State laws require that you call before you dig — at least two-three business days in advance (contact your state One-Call (811) for specific requirements). No trees may be placed on the easement area.  This is to allow for aerial surveillance of the easement area as well as to prevent tree roots from damaging the pipeline coating.

 

Easement

Q: What is an easement or right-of-way?

A: Easement: The interests in land owned by a person other than the person that has title to the fee simple interest in the land, consisting of the right to use or control the land, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose (such as the right to install, maintain and operate a pipeline or related facilities).

Right-of-way (ROW): Is a person’s legal right, established by usage or by contract, to pass through grounds or property owned by another. This right is incidental to or a part of the easement interests that will be conveyed to Williams and may be referred to as the access or road easement, easement area or right-of-way.

Q: How much land will be included in the easement area?

A: The amount of land required for a pipeline easement will vary depending on various factors of the project and the land. Some of these factors may include: size of pipeline or related facility, route, topography, soil conditions and regulatory requirements. Williams’ Land Representative will discuss the land requirements with the landowner during the easement agreement negotiations and the easement area along the pipeline and related facilities will be described in the easement agreement. Any temporary workspace reverts back to the landowner upon completion of pipeline or related facility construction and easement area restoration.

Q: Who do I call to locate the pipeline or facilities on my property?

A: Before starting any work, the law requires you to call your local ‘One-Call’ center to tell them when and where you plan to dig by dialing 811.

The One Call center will notify the appropriate local company personnel who are responsible for locating the facilities within their area. No surface-disturbing activities should take place on the easement area prior to company personnel locating the facilities.

Q: How wide is the existing Williams easement on my property?

A: The easement agreement applicable to that pipeline should describe the width of an existing easement.  A survey of your property may also indicate the easement width, although some surveys may not include that level of detail. If none of this information is available, contact Williams at 1-800-Williams or here.

 

Encroachment

Q: What is an encroachment?

A: An encroachment is an infringement of another’s rights or intrusion on another’s property. For the purposes of a pipeline easement an encroachment typically is an action or the placement of something within an easement area that may adversely affect or interfere with (encroaches on) Williams’ rights under the easement agreement. While most uses of the surface of the land will be allowed (including farming activities such as crop production or raising livestock), the placement of trees, buildings, structures, sheds, fences, decks, patios, swimming pools, roads, driveways, utilities, sprinkler systems, power or telephone poles are not allowed on Williams’ easements without Williams’ consent. As is the case with any surface disturbance, please contact your local One Call (811) and Williams (855-245-2300).

 

Environmental

Q: How do you protect wildlife?

A: Williams strives to minimize impacts to landowners and the environment. Williams sites pipeline corridors within or adjacent to existing utility corridors, when practical, to minimize environmental disturbances. During the analysis of potential pipeline routes, extra attention is given to identifying sensitive areas of ecological or historic significance. Field scientists, archaeologists and biologists conduct detailed environmental surveys and evaluations of potential study corridors searching for threatened or endangered species, sensitive wildlife and vegetation habitats, wetlands and water bodies, and areas of archaeological significance.

 

General

Q: What are you transporting?

A: Williams’ core business is the gathering and transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids. Contact your Williams Land Representative to discuss products specific to your property.

Q: What is a compressor station?

A: Compressor stations are the “engines” that power natural gas pipelines. As the name implies, the compressor station compresses the natural gas (increasing its pressure) in order to keep it moving through the pipeline. Pipeline companies install compressor stations at various points along their pipelines, typically one every 40 to 100 miles. The size and the number of compressors varies, based on the diameter of the pipe and the volume of gas to be moved.

Q: If I sign an easement agreement will I still own my land?

A: An easement agreement does not transfer title of the land to Williams; it merely grants the interests in land that provide for the right to use the land for the specific purposes stated in the easement agreement.

Q: Will the presence of the pipeline affect my property values?

A: No – generally natural gas pipeline easements have been shown to have no material effect on property values.

 

Legal

Q: What is the difference between eminent domain and condemnation?

A: Eminent domain is the power to utilize private property for public use by a government or its agent following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property. Condemnation is the legal process by which that governmental body, its agent or other authorized entity exercises its right of eminent domain to acquire private property for public uses.

 

Payment

Q: How is the value of the easement determined?

A: Easement value is generally determined by the market value of land in the area as determined by independent sources such as local MAI appraisers, real estate brokers and other real estate professionals, considering such factors as length and width of the easement area, existing land use and comparable sales in the area.

 

Pipeline

Q: Will you ever need to dig up the pipeline?

A: Williams may occasionally need to access the pipeline to ensure that its operations remain as safe as possible; therefore, Williams must have unrestricted entry and access to all of its facilities at all times for regular maintenance, inspection, repair or during emergency situations.

Q: What is cathodic protection?

A: Cathodic protection is a low-voltage electrical system that helps prevent pipeline corrosion.

Restoration

Q: How long will the restoration phase take?

A: Restoration typically takes several growing seasons to fully revegetate. Your designated Williams Operations personnel or Land Representative will work with you to ensure successful revegetation.

Q: How will the easement area look after construction?

A: Williams is committed to restoring your property as close as reasonably possible to the condition it was in immediately prior to the construction activities, except that you may notice pipeline markers and a lack of trees along the easement area.

Q: Who will take care of unusual erosion or settling?

A: Contact your designated Williams Operations personnel or Land Representative to resolve any issues with unusual erosion or settling.

 

Safety

Q: Can I dig near or on the easement area?

A: No. Before starting any work, the law requires you to call your local ‘One-Call’ center to tell them when and where you plan to dig by dialing 811.

The One Call center will notify the appropriate local company personnel who are responsible for locating the facilities within their area. No surface-disturbing activities should take place on the easement area prior to company personnel locating the facilities.

Q: Are natural gas pipelines safe? How is your pipeline safer than any other form of transportation?

A: Yes. Pipelines are the safest, most reliable and efficient manner of transporting energy products. There are more than 210 pipeline systems totaling over 305,000 miles of interstate and intrastate pipelines across the United States. Statistics gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, indicate that less than 0.01 percent of all transportation accidents in the United States are related to pipelines.

Pipelines exist almost everywhere throughout the United States (generally buried underground) transporting the energy that you depend on every day to heat your home, generate electricity, cook your food and so much more. Pipelines are a vital and efficient part of the United States’ energy infrastructure.

At Williams, we understand that we have a responsibility to our neighbors and the communities along our pipelines to embrace pipeline safety by implementing stringent safety programs and practices every step of the way.

Q: What should I do if I suspect a pipeline leak?

A: Leaks from pipelines are unusual, but we want you to know what to do in the unlikely event one occurs. Your senses of sight, hearing and smell are the best ways to recognize a pipeline leak.

If you experience a pipeline emergency situation, go to a safe location and call 911 or your local emergency response telephone number and the pipeline’s emergency phone number. Call collect, if necessary, and give your name, phone number and a description of the leak and its location. Call us immediately if you strike one of our pipelines or see someone working near them. Even minor dents, chips or scrapes are serious and can cause future leaks if the problem is not professionally repaired. For more info, click here.